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Incentive Zoning Update

Public open space is one of the benefits that are encouraged by incentive zoning.
Incentive zoning requires property owners to provide public benefits, such as affordable housing, open space, or historic preservation, to achieve their site's full building potential.

What’s Happening Now?

Incentive zoning is a set of requirements that property owners in certain zones must meet to achieve the full potential of their building site. Property owners are required to provide public benefits, such as affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space, in exchange for larger buildings.

We are undertaking a comprehensive, city-wide update of the incentive zoning requirements for the first time since they were created. Our update will combine several zone-specific programs into a consistent city-wide approach. Our update will also address issues relating to the requirements for specific public benefits and overall program benefits and costs.

We are also considering whether to convert the affordable housing and child care incentives to a mandatory mitigation program (such as linkage fees). A mitigation program would require developers to provide affordable housing and/or child care (either through performance or payment of a fee) regardless of whether an incentive was used, in order to mitigate (to some extent) the impacts of new development on the need for these facilities.

This effort has been integrated into the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda which will be developed during the first half of 2015. The City released an analysis of various options to be considered in June 2015. We expect legislation implementing a specific proposal relating to affordable housing will be available after the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Stakeholder Committee produces their recommendations in 2015 and a second piece of legislation addressing the non-housing elements in 2016.

Project Benefits

  • More public benefits, such as affordable housing or open space, throughout Seattle
  • Increased number of developers that use the incentive zoning program and provide public benefits
  • More consistent regulations that are easier to understand

The End Result

Our update is intended to create consistent, city-wide incentive zoning rules that encourages developers to use the program and to provide substantial public benefits as well as considering new approaches to mitigating the needs created by growth.

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